BOOMER profiles the dedicated volunteer, coach and instructor.
Born 74 years ago at St. Luke’s Hospital on Grace Street in Richmond, James Harding started volunteering with the Thomas Jefferson High School of Richmond Air Force Junior ROTC program in the fall of 2012, sharing his experience. Harding has been involved in competitive shooting since age 14 and has taught Hunter Safety Education. He usually meets with the cadets twice a week for 21⁄2-hour sessions. The cadets are drilled on concentration, discipline and marksmanship. He also accompanies them to competitions.
HIS NOMINATION: In part, his Boomers & Shakers nomination read: “James Harding is not a teacher. He is a retired machinist who volunteers two and three days a week to teach students in the AFJROTC program at Thomas Jefferson High School. He drives from New Kent County, about a 100-mile round trip. He is a tough taskmaster. Demanding discipline, attention to detail, obedience to commands, timely attendance, no horseplay.”
WHAT HE BELIEVES ABOUT THE IMPACT HE MAKES: “I believe this enhances the cadets’ lives by promoting self-respect, and letting them know that other people care. Last June, four of my top five shooters graduated. One joined the Army and the other three are in college. I am very proud of them.”
WHAT HE KNOWS FOR SURE: “I know it enhances my life by allowing me to experience young adults maturing in front of my eyes. I get to know young people individually instead of learning about them through the news. My wife and I get to socialize with these cadets and their families. I hope and I think that we have made connections for life.”
OTHER AFFILIATIONS: Thomas Jefferson Cadet Corps Alumni Association; George Wythe Alumni; Deutscher Sports Club board of directors. “On my mother’s side I am of German descent and I am slowly getting back to my German roots. The social connections are fantastic.”
ON MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN THE COMMUNITY: “Our community is our life. Any improvement in the community is an improvement for everyone.”